Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Genre: Contemporary, Middle-Grade
Published by: Puffin Books
I’ve seen this book in quite a few libraries recently, and I never bothered to pick it up until now because the cover seemed a little odd, and I thought because it was middle-grade that I wouldn’t enjoy it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I should know better than to judge a book by its cover, because Counting By 7s is a story I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Willow Chance is a twelve-year old genius who is obsessed with plants and diseases. She returns home after a meeting with her counsellor Dell Duke to find a police car waiting in her drive way. Both her parents were killed in a car accident. The story then follows Willow in the aftermath of this event and how she manages to touch five other people’s lives in seemingly small ways that change their entire existence.
It’s a mix of first person and third person narrative, so the other characters get a perspective also. The way that the scenes were cut was also spectacular, which wasn’t a surprise considering the author is also a director. You never got information you didn’t need and the secondary perspectives always aided the understanding of the characters.The plot is pretty simplistic and follows a series of events but mostly focuses on where Willow is going to stay now that she’s an orphan. Some people may find this structure a little boring, but I thought it was so beautifully crafted I couldn’t put it down.
Counting By 7s is such a beautiful story about unlikely friends and teamwork. It’s uplifting and the ending made me cry tears of joy. Willow is quite similar to Matilda, and the way the story touches you and pulls on your heart strings works in a similar way to the Roald Dahl classic. Willow even finds refuge in the library!
I don’t want to give away much else, but if you’re looking for a really touching middle-grade story that can be appreciated by all ages then I could not recommend Counting By 7s more highly.